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  • Kerry

    Stargate Creates Real Time Virtual Environments

    May 18, 2020, 3:56 pm
    Blackmagic Design announced today that Award winning visual effects facility Stargate Studios utilized a wide range of Blackmagic Design products in creating “ThruView”, the company’s cutting edge, proprietary real time virtual production system.
    Fremont, CA – May 18, 2020 – Blackmagic Design announced today that Award winning visual effects facility Stargate Studios utilized a wide range of Blackmagic Design products in creating “ThruView,” the company’s cutting edge, proprietary real time virtual production system.     


    Stargate founder and award winning visual effects creator Sam Nicholson, A.S.C., originally developed the concept of real time compositing in the early 2000’s, when production had all but halted due to 9/11. “Shows based in remote locations were suddenly unable to travel to their respective locations,” said Nicholson. “So, the question was, could we convincingly put ‘ER’ in Chicago, ‘CSI’ and ‘Ugly Betty’ in New York City and ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ in Seattle, without ever having to leave LA?”     

    Using clever production design, extensive plate shooting and a fair amount of green screen on set, Nicholson’s team was able to convert all of the shows the company serviced to virtual production. “We established the Stargate Virtual Backlot, shooting high resolution 360-degree backgrounds of cities all over the world,” said Nicholson. Stargate Studios’ Virtual Backlot library is now the largest Virtual Environment / Set Extension library in the world, with over 300,000 clips.     

    But the solution was not perfect. Using green screen on set was not ideal, with directors and actors feeling limited by working against green only, with nothing to which they can react. Directors of Photography also found it difficult to match lighting to backgrounds they couldn’t see. Add to that the increased time and cost of compositing scenes in post production, and Nicholson knew there had to be a better way. He began to ask, “Could we achieve what we had been doing in post production in real time? Could we achieve finished pixels on set?"     

    Nicholson’s team began to put their research into play, and leveraged it for their next production, HBO’s new series “Run.” The show required the characters to travel across the United States on a train, but production never intended to leave Toronto. “During preproduction we proved that with multiple Blackmagic Design DeckLink 8K Pro cards we could stream 10 simultaneous streams of 8K footage to the Epic Unreal game engine for real time playback on forty 4K monitors on a 150' long train set.”     

    Utilizing a custom tracking and lighting tool developed in house, the system was able to deliver a photorealistic moving image, displayed through the train windows, with animated lighting to match the plate, tracked to and composited with the shot in real time. “We produced the entire series with this system which we now call ‘ThruView.’”     

    The “ThruView” system relies on a number of new technologies that are finally developing into robust, reliable tools, both proprietary and off the shelf. “We developed targetless, wireless camera tracking at Stargate, as well as a pixel mapped, RGBW DMX lighting system. Tools such as 8K image capture are now workable with Blackmagic Design‘s 8K playback and Davinci Resolve Studio on set color correction,” said Nicholson. Affordable 4K monitors, increasingly fine grain, modular LED panels, NVidia‘s accelerated GPU graphics processors and Epic‘s Unreal 4 game engine combine with the Blackmagic Design tools to make “ThruView” possible for Stargate. “The challenge is to bring these various technologies together and make them dependable and durable enough for the pressures of multicamera live action production.”     

    “The Stargate ‘ThruView’ team employed three Davinci Resolve Studio systems, simultaneously on the ‘Run’ set,” said Nicholson, “We relied on multiple Davinci Resolve stations to coordinate all of our assets for playback on set. Resolve’s extensive capabilities in real time color correction, editorial tools and Fusion VFX were essential to manipulating a large quantity of high resolution footage at the rapid pace of a live action set.”     

    In addition to Resolve and the DeckLink 8K Pro cards, the “ThruView” system also incorporates a variety of Blackmagic Design products as part of the system backbone. This includes multiple Smart Videohub 12G routers, DaVinci Resolve Micro Panels, UltraStudio 4K Extreme, a Teranex AV standards converter, an array of Micro and Mini Converters, as well as an ATEM Constellation 8K switcher, which was instrumental in handling the high resolution images.     

    Nicholson relied on Blackmagic Design because he knew he could depend on the tools. “Blackmagic products are very dependable. They work right out of the box and continue working. It‘s a rough working environment on set, so the tools you are using have to be bulletproof to survive.”     

    “Real Time Virtual Production, which uses a combination of photographic and computer-generated assets, will become the new norm as processors get faster, memory deeper and large scale LED displays become more affordable and more durable,” said Nicholson. ”Virtual production offers a practical solution to the challenging production situation we are currently facing. It is much easier to bring the location to a production than move an entire production to remote locations. That said, it is important to remember that virtual production is not for every production. It requires a much more diligent preproduction process to acquire your creative assets and test the specific technologies you will be using in principal photography.”     

    But despite the caution, Nicholson feels strongly that the industry is headed firmly in the direction of virtual production, and that “ThruView” is positioned to answer that call. “Ultimately, I do feel it will replace approximately 50% of global green screen shooting in the next few years. Our system is ideal because it works and, thanks to Blackmagic Design’s components, it can be offered at a reasonable price. Because no matter how good a piece of hardware is, it’s not good if you can’t afford it.”     

    Press Photography  
    Product photos of the DeckLink 8K Pro, DaVinci Resolve Studio, DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel, ATEM Constellation 8K, UltraStudio 4K Extreme, Teranex AV, Smart Videohub 12G, as well as all other Blackmagic Design products, are available at www.blackmagicdesign.com/media/images.      

    About Blackmagic Design  
    Blackmagic Design creates the world’s highest quality video editing products, digital film cameras, color correctors, video converters, video monitoring, routers, live production switchers, disk recorders, waveform monitors and real time film scanners for the feature film, post production and television broadcast industries. Blackmagic Design’s DeckLink capture cards launched a revolution in quality and affordability in post production, while the company’s Emmy™ award winning DaVinci color correction products have dominated the television and film industry since 1984. Blackmagic Design continues ground breaking innovations including 6G-SDI and 12G-SDI products and stereoscopic 3D and Ultra HD workflows. Founded by world leading post production editors and engineers, Blackmagic Design has offices in the USA, UK, Japan, Singapore and Australia. For more information, please go to www.blackmagicdesign.com.   

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  • Other Postings By Member

    • Kerry
      COLOR

      BBC and Hulu’s Normal People Used DaVinci Resolv

      July 1, 2020, 2:26 pm
      Blackmagic Design today announced that the hugely popular television adaptation of Sally Rooney’s New York Times best selling novel, Normal People, was graded and finished in DaVinci Resolve Studio.

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    • Kerry
      COLOR

      Sandwich Uses Pocket Cinema Camera 6K and Resolve

      June 29, 2020, 3:00 pm
      Blackmagic Design today announced that Sandwich used Pocket Cinema Camera 6K, Blackmagic RAW and DaVinci Resolve Studio to shoot and grade a new online spot for Slack. The project was finished using Lunchbox by Sandwich, an exciting new distributed production service that allows live action spots to be created remotely.

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    • Kerry
      EDITING

      Ghost Funk Orchestra Honors Bill Withers

      June 29, 2020, 12:37 pm
      Ghost Funk Orchestra’s “For My Friend” music video is a touching tribute to the late singer, songwriter and guitarist Bill Withers who recently passed away. Known for hits such as “Lean on Me” and “Lovely Day,” Withers’ friend and Ghost Funk Orchestra’s bandleader Seth Applebaum wanted to honor his friend by covering Withers’ classic hit “For My Friend.” The only catch was the 60-member band couldn't meet in person due to COVID-19 and social distancing restrictions.

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    • Kerry
      COLOR

      MisterWives’ Rock Bottom Shot on Blackmagic RAW

      June 25, 2020, 3:18 pm
      Blackmagic Design today announced that the hit band MisterWives used Pocket Cinema Camera 6K and Blackmagic RAW to shoot the music video for their new song “Rock Bottom.” DaVinci Resolve Studio was also used for color correction for the video.

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    • Kerry
      EDITING

      Modern Wardudes Created with Blackmagic Design

      June 15, 2020, 3:12 pm
      Blackmagic Design announced today that up and coming production company Ascender produced their popular YouTube web series, “Modern Wardudes” exclusively using the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K and DaVinci Resolve Studio.

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    • Kerry
      SOUND

      Classmates Posted with DaVinci Resolve

      May 28, 2020, 1:04 pm
      Blackmagic Design today announced that Singapore based Echo Entertainment used URSA Mini Pro G2 cameras shooting in Blackmagic RAW to capture the first season of Mediacorp Singapore’s upcoming TV dramedy “Classmates.” Echo Entertainment also used DaVinci Resolve Studio for color correction and VFX work, with the DaVinci Resolve Fairlight page used for audio editing.

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    • Kerry
      VFX

      Lightstorm Entertainment Using Blackmagic Design

      May 27, 2020, 3:19 pm
      Blackmagic Design announced today that Lightstorm Entertainment used an extensive array of Blackmagic products, including the Teranex AV, Smart VideoHub 40x40 12G, ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K and more for their recent work during production for the “Avatar” sequels.

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    • Kerry
      COLOR

      Same Sun Video Shot with Pocket Cinema Camera 6K

      May 22, 2020, 2:57 pm
      Blackmagic Design today announced Jasmine Ash’s music video for her new single “Same Sun” was shot by Brendan Walter using Pocket Cinema Camera 6K. Walter also used the Blackmagic RAW codec and DaVinci Resolve for color correction on the video, which allowed him to be able to capture a whole neighborhood of people in their homes while shooting in natural light through their windows.

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    • Kerry
      COLOR

      AADAI and Andhaghaaram Graded with DaVinci Resolve

      May 12, 2020, 3:12 pm
      Blackmagic Design today announced India based digital cinema designer and colorist G. Balaji used DaVinci Resolve Studio to grade the recent Indian hit film “AADAI” and the upcoming “Andhaghaaram.”

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    • Kerry
      COLOR

      Stay Home PSA Created with Blackmagic Design

      May 8, 2020, 2:58 pm
      Blackmagic Design today announced the new ProBalance PSA “Stay Home” was shot by Clio Award winning director Kiran Koshy using a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. Koshy shot the PSA in his own backyard using his family dog Nigel and young daughter as talent, and worked with nearby colorist Charles Gerstner using DaVinci Resolve to grade the final spot.

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